Master Gardeners’ plant sale supports scholarships

DOVER — Springtime is finally settling in around Delaware.

The days are lingering longer and birds are chirping in the morning, but the hot, muggy summer days are still weeks away.

In other words, it’s the perfect time of year to start thinking about your garden.

Whether you already have a green thumb or you’re new to gardening, the Kent County Master Gardeners’ annual plant sale may be a good place to start.

“In Delaware, we say that all danger of frost is gone by mid-May,” said Charlotte Mathis, co-chair for the event.

“Coming to the plant sale will certainly give them a head start on designing what they want to put in their yards or even in pots.”

10dsn Kent County Master Gardeners 001The sale is set for April 25 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Delaware State University greenhouse.

Expect a variety of plants, from fruits and vegetables to herbs, shrubs and trees, hundreds of flats of annuals and dozens upon dozens of potted perennials. Choose from a variety of heirloom tomatoes with names like “Arkansas Traveler,” “Golden Jubilee,” “Amish Paste” and “Giant Belgium.”

“Our prices are competitive with the local retailers and greenhouses,” Ms. Mathis said.

“We try to keep them that way and maybe a little bit below.”

Not only are the plants a good deal, the event is for a good cause.

The sale supports the Master Gardeners’ scholarship fund. The group plans to award three $1,000 scholarships to Kent County residents. The scholarships are open to students who are pursuing agriculture or a related field at college.

All the Kent County Master Gardeners members come out to support the event, and they will be on hand to help people pick out plants and give advice.

“We’re also there if somebody has a shrub or a tree or any kind of plant that maybe looks like it has a disease or an insect on it, if they can bring us a sample we can help them with that,” said Sharon Cohee, who also co-chairs the event.

The sale offers “just about anything that you would find if you went to a nursery or greenhouse,” Ms. Mathis said.

The group buys the plants wholesale when they can; many are dug up from Master Gardeners’ own yards.

“There are natives, and lots of people perhaps don’t grow native plants in their yard, so those would maybe be a bit unusual because Master Gardeners tend to grow native plants,” Ms. Mathis said.

Customers may be able to find plants like native columbines, native asters and native geranium, also known as cranesbill, she said.

The plant sale started at least 20 years ago, Ms. Cohee said.

“When the sale first started, it was very small,” she said.

“We just sold a few geraniums. The master gardeners dug up things from their own yards.

It was just a way to earn a little bit of extra money and from there it just grew.”

As the sale became more successful, the Kent County Master Gardeners decided they needed to do something with the money and designated it for scholarships.

“A good cause is a good cause,” Ms. Mathis said.

“The field of horticulture is to a lot of us very important. In today’s society we are losing touch with what our environment is providing. And I think that the more young people that we encourage going into horticulture fields can’t be but good.”

The plan is to sell out, but any leftovers are used for other projects, such as the Modern Maturity Center garden or Kent County’s demonstration garden in Smyrna.

“We have a lot of repeat customers,” Ms. Cohee said.

“The public actually looks forward to this. They will even call in and ask what our plant sale is to make sure that they’re there. Some people have been coming for years.”

“Master Gardeners are a great group of people. We’re very pleasant, we love plants, and we want to educate the public,” she said.

For more information, call 857-6438.

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